“O Thou who art the source of all existence and the light of all seeing: We remember with joy and awe that the world is thy creation, and that life is thy gift. Lift our thoughts from the littleness of our own works to the greatness, the majesty, and the wonder of thine, and teach us so to behold thy glory that we may grow into thy likeness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Methodist Book of Worship, 1965)
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
The Great Tradition
“Our inheritance is the understanding of God (Evagrius), or more fully, the Lord is our inheritance (Augustine). We are to live now so as to possess the Lord (Jerome). He is everything for us (Leander). Let us express our love for him (Augustine). The measure of our inheritance depends on our capacity for God (Evagrius). The measure of Christ’s inheritance is the full company of the redeemed (Cassiodorus), and his passion for their salvation remained strong even in the nighttime of his suffering (Jerome). The path of righteousness is the line of sight fixed on God (Cassiodorus). We have the responsibility to set the Lord before us (Jerome). Christ’s position at the right hand reveals the equality of worth he shares with the Father (Hesychius).”
Prayer of Confession
“O Lord, as we come into your special presence, we bring with us the burdens of yesterday. Many of us have deep concerns about our families, our health, and our material welfare. All of us come to you with the blight of sins which have been committed and with goals which have not been met. Forgive our faults, we pray; give us strength to cope with our troubles and help us dispel our needless worries, thus freeing us to worship and prepare ourselves for the challenges of tomorrow. Amen.” (H. Burnham Kirkland)
Gracious God, give me the faith of Psalm 16. I can think of no other way to begin this reflection than with that plea. Reading Psalm 16 is uplifting. May it be a constant prayer for us all. Verses 1-4 remind us that God alone is our safe refuge. God is the giver of good gifts and there is nothing good we have which did not come from him. Therefore, we will not bow to other gods… lesser so-called deities. We will not sacrifice to them or call upon them. Idolatry is a constant temptation for us. May God in his mercy uncover and expose our camouflaged gods and turn our hearts and attention back to him.
Verses 5-8 remind us that God is our portion. He is enough. The boundaries he has established for us are safe and secure. When we are tempted to go beyond the safety of his will, let us be reminded that doing so takes us off the right path. It leads us into all manner of danger. Instead, let us be so saturated in the counsel of God, that even while we sleep at night, our hearts will meditate upon his wisdom. When we walk with the Lord at our right hand, we will not be ultimately shaken. While we may stumble and even fall, he is there to pick us up. He will never leave our side nor forsake us.
Such a life, according to verses 9-11, leads us to gladness of heart and worship. How else should we respond? What does it mean to you that you will never be abandoned, even in death? What value do you place in the sure knowledge that not only will our loving God make known to us the path of life in the here and now, but that he will continually fill us with his joyful presence and offer us the hope of eternal pleasures, which are his to give to those whom he loves? Can you see now why this Psalm ought to be a prayer written upon our hearts?
- God as our Safe Refuge: Advent can be a season of intense busyness and distractions. Many things compete for our time and attention, from holiday shopping to party planning. In the midst of it all, are we still seeking God as our refuge, our safe haven in the storm? Take a moment to reflect on the things that might be drawing you away from God during this season. Are there false gods or distractions in your life that need to be set aside to make more room for him?
- God as Our Portion: The pursuit of material possessions and worldly success can sometimes cloud our understanding of what truly matters. In this Advent season, let’s strive to find contentment in God alone. Consider the boundaries God has set for you, the safety of his guidance. Are there areas in your life where you have been tempted to go beyond his will? Reflect on what it means to make God your portion and how that might reshape your priorities during Advent.
- Joy in God’s Presence: The joy of God’s presence is a gift that transcends the boundaries of time. This Advent, contemplate the eternal promise of being with God. How does this assurance affect your perspective on life, both in the present and in the future? As we draw near to the celebration of Christ’s birth, consider how his incarnation and his promise to return bring you joy and assurance.
- Reread the quotation from The Great Tradition. What resonates with you the most, and why?
- How does Psalm 16 enhance your understanding of the early Church Fathers responses in The Great Tradition. Can you see the timeless nature of their insights?
- Compose your own prayer based on the words of Psalm 16 and The Great Tradition. Share your prayer with some Christian friends as an encouraging word to them.
As we reflect on this Advent season, let’s be reminded of the powerful image of Psalm 16. God is our refuge, our portion, and the source of everlasting joy. Let’s embrace these truths as we walk through the busyness and distractions of the season. More than that, let’s fix our eyes on him to help us from becoming distracted in the first place. As we look forward to the celebration of Christ’s birth, may we continually recall that he is the ultimate source of our joy, our refuge, and our inheritance. Thanks be to God.